Eateries, diners scramble to alter plans as group sizes set to reduce

With only a few days to go before Mother's Day on Sunday, diners and restaurants are quickly adjusting their plans to adapt to new restrictions.

On Tuesday, it was announced that the limit for social gatherings will be reduced to five people from eight, starting from Saturday.

Several restaurant operators told The New Paper they have been calling customers who have made reservations in large groups to have them make alternative arrangements.

"We will be contacting those customers with reservations above five people and suggest to them to consider our takeaway menu," said a spokesman for Paradise Group, which includes brands such as Taste Paradise and Paradise Teochew.

Mr Shek Chi Kuen, general manager of Cantonese restaurant Yan at the National Gallery, said: "Affected guests with bookings of six to eight people have made... their number of guests down to five."

He said Yan has received a rise in the number of orders for the takeaway Mother's Day At Home meal bundle since the announcement.

With the impending downsizing of groups, some diners are hoping to shift their big-group gatherings to an earlier date.

Dr Martin Bem, founder and managing director of LeVeL33 at Marina Bay Financial Centre, said: "Since Tuesday, we have received several calls from guests for a booking of more than five for Thursday and Friday. But as these are peak days for our businesses, we are mostly full already."

The latest announcement has given rise to some concern for an industry badly hit during the pandemic last year.

Zafferano Italian Restaurant and Lounge managing director Vadim Korob said the overall mood at the restaurant was dampened by the announcement as they were hoping to accommodate bigger dining groups and events, as well as large-scale weddings soon.

However, Mr Vadim said: "Given the recent rise in cases, we understand the reasons for implementing the stricter measures."

Acting assistant food and beverage manager at Blue Jasmine at Park Hotel Farrer Park, Mr Justin Yeo, said the lessons learnt from sustaining the business throughout Covid-19 so far will put them in good stead to handle the latest set of measures.

He said: "Over the past year, we have definitely learnt to pivot quickly to adapt to ever-evolving situations.

"Our accumulated experience serves as a ready playbook that will help us meet the new challenges of the new measures."